Again we consider the words of wise Solomon from Ecclesiastes 3.
A Time To Cast Away Stones, And A Time To Gather Stones
As a child, I knew much about casting away stones. Year after year, I would labour in my grandparents’ garden, and among the duties delegated to me was to get rid of the stones. As much as I had cleared the land of stones the previous year, sure enough, “a time to cast away stones” came again.
The prophet Isaiah spoke about God and His vineyard: “He dug up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine” (Isaiah 5:2). Even the Lord, in tending to His own removed the stones. Stones get in the way, they impede growth, they use up valuable space but accomplish no good for the crop which is to be sown.
We might compare our lives to the Israelites. We too have stones which the Lord endeavours to remove, that we might grow effectively as His people. The Hebrew writer called for the Christian to “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…” (Hebrews 12:1). Again, James implored, “…lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness…” (James 1:21). In Paul’s epistles, he spoke of the need to “…put off, concerning your former conduct…” a variety of impediments to the Christian life (Ephesians 4:22; cf. Colossians 3:8). Jesus spoke of Himself as the vine, and we as the branches (John 15). The pruning of the branches, to bring about more fruit is parallel to the casting out of stones in the vineyard, that the harvest might be plentiful and good.
Though the Lord cleared away the stones, the result was not anticipated. He inquired, “What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:4) May the casting away of stones in our lives result in good fruit, to God’s glory.
As there is a time to cast away stones, there is likewise a time to gather stones. When one gathers stones, it is for the purpose of building, whether it be a wall, a house or some other structure. When Joshua crossed the Jordan with Israel, they gathered stones
The temple today is also a gathering of stones. We read of the “…foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone..” (Ephesians 2:20). Upon this, “…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Each Christian is a valuable stone in the church, God’s temple of believers.
A Time To Embrace, And A Time To Refrain From Embracing
There are a number of reasons why one might embrace. Laban ran to embrace Jacob, his sister’s son (Genesis 29:13). Esau
Embracing can be a matter of spiritual relationship, of kinship, or of romance. Depending upon the context, it may be done physically, or it may be done figuratively. Regardless the context, the message of an embrace is love, concern and devotion.
However, not all occasions call for embracing. There are situations where one ought to “refrain from embracing.” Solomon, warning of the immoral woman says, “…why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress? …He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (Proverbs 5:20, 23). Never should one be drawn to the enticing embrace of a woman who is not his own wife. The Proverb writer instructs, “Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well… Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth” (v 15, 18).
But there are even times when it is beneficial for spouses to refrain from embracing. Paul wrote, “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment” (1 Corinthians 7:5-6).
Finally, since God’s law is given in order for us to embrace it, we should acknowledge that wickedness should never be embraced by the child of God. Christians are commanded to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18), idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), strife, disputes, greed (1 Timothy 6:4-11), and youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). We are not to embrace any of these.
James records, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8). Loosely given, we are to embrace the Lord and He will embrace us. We must cease our embrace of the devil if we desire him to cease his embrace of us.
Friend, cast away the stones that impede your growth, and build the blocks of faith one upon another. Embrace the truth of God, and refrain from embracing the falsehoods of the devil. It will eternally benefit you!